Pursuing the Sacred in Art

Daniel Balan

A picture is worth a thousand words.
-Unknown origin

“There are two ways of expressing things; one is to show them crudely, the other is to evoke them with art.”
-Henri Matisse

Every mark is a kind of word—-a communicative record or sign of one’s presence or of an event. Whether footprint or fingerprint, scratch or signature, the identity of the originator is embedded in the mark, becoming an individual’s “I am” left behind for others to see. Humanity’s first marks developed into pictures that conveyed ideas or concepts that represented real things. Thus the visual, the conceptual, and the real were closely connected. Writing developed from these images and so the origins of written language are in art. A work of art, like a written word, remains a mark of the originator’s identity. These early marks, both word and art, were both sign and symbol, conveying ideas as well as evidence of life and existence. These were man’s first attempt at immortality: words that outlive their originator. [Read more…]

Celibacy and the Eucharist

Rev. Pang Joseph Shiu Tcheou

As a transitional deacon eagerly awaiting priestly ordination this past year, I was confronted with the challenge (amidst many others!) of attempting to finish my last significant academic work: my Master of Arts thesis. Fortunately, the topic that I chose was one that is very intimately connected to the destiny that the Lord had mapped out for me: priestly celibacy. Studying the history and theology of priestly celibacy not only allowed me to hand in something substantial and of value to the seminary as part of my Master of Arts program but was, providentially, a beautiful way for me to meditate on and prepare for the incredible life that awaited me. In the little essay that follows, I would like to share the heart of this thesis and how, as a priest ordained for less than three months, I have humbly come to see the beauty and the glory that is the priesthood, lived out in celibate and chaste love. [Read more…]


Shannon Berry

When I was a kid, I was Catholic—-my head filled up like a chalice with holy mysteries. When I was an infant, my parents clothed my small body in a white dress and baptized me with the name Shannon Elisabeth, a good, strong Irish-Catholic name. At seven, I stood in line with the other second graders, waiting to enter the confessional for the first time. I hid a little hand-written slip of paper in my shoe, so I wouldn’t forget what to tell the priest. In the spring of that same year, I wore daisies in my hair and a simple white dress as I knelt, ecstatic and overly solemn, during my First Communion Mass. [Read more…]

Christ, Culture, and the Culture Wars

Ryan T. Anderson

“The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply. Love—-caritas—-will always prove necessary, even in the most just society.”
—Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est

[Read more…]

Light from the East

Matthew Alderman

The claim that the altar of the early Church was always designed to celebrate facing the people, a claim made often and repeatedly, turns out to be nothing but a fairy tale.
—Josef Jungmann, S.J., a former advocate of Mass facing the congregation 1

When asked about the era before the liturgical changes of the mid-1960s, Catholics who lived through it often bring up exotic tales of Masses celebrated by a priest with “his back to the people,” sometimes wistfully, sometimes not. In these reveries, the Second Vatican Council inevitably becomes the event that turned the priest around and broke the altar away from the wall. Until then, the celebrant had typically faced the apse or rear wall of the church, ostensibly appearing to be “away from the people.” This practice was described for symbolic and historical reasons using the Latin phrase, ad orientem, “to the east,” sometimes also rendered in English as “the eastward position.” 2 Now he was turned to face the congregation, versus populum, an apparent fruit of post-Conciliar openness. However, a careful combing of the relevant Council document, Sacrosanctum Concilium, reveals that Vatican II did not mandate any such action. In light of the skepticism Pope Benedict has expressed throughout his career concerning the prudence of this change, it is imperative that the informed layman to be able to evaluate the true historical rationale behind this still-controversial decision. Any detailed examination of the matter will find the logic behind this shift deeply flawed. [Read more…]

John the Baptist

Simeon Lewis

After him, the rain.

The desert thirst, countless sands
Unfolding a vast dazzling waste,
Ripples of wind etched
Like lines of the snake
On pyramid mountains sinking
In golden sun.
A naked beaten tree alive—
Roots to an unseen spring.

[Read more…]

Lessons in Debasement

David Alexander

“Every man has a pope in his belly.”
-Martin Luther

Reggie scanned the collection of misfits that had come to hear him speak as to an oracle. Regulars from adult education seminars, they included an aging hippie with a bandana, as well as a biker cultivating Civil War-era muttonchops. Reggie wore a stylish robe and slippers and cleared his throat before reading aloud from a piece of paper: [Read more…]

On Things As They Are

Amy Welborn

You’d think that when it came to the coming-of-age novel, Catholics would be the masters. It’s the story of redemption after loss—isn’t that the basic Catholic story? Loss of innocence, exposure to the real world, hints of redemption, recollections glimmering like small jewels worked into an antique tapestry… you’d think. [Read more…]

Advent 2006


Amy Welborn, On Things As They Are


David Alexander,
Lessons in Debasement

Joseph M. Barbato,
Calling Cupertino

Michael Doyle,
King Saul


Sarah DeCorla-Souza,

John A. Di Camillo,
Timeless Embrace

Timothy Ferris,
Echo Lake

Simeon Lewis,
John the Baptist

J.B. Toner, Four Sonnets


Matthew Alderman,
Light from the East

Ryan T. Anderson,
Christ, Culture, and the Culture Wars

Shannon Berry,

K.E. Cybulski,
Saving Berlin

Fr. Pang Joseph Shiu Tcheou,
Celibacy and the Eucharist

Art and Prose

Daniel Balan, Pursuing the Sacred in Art

Art and Photography

Alysse Boyd,

Teresa Burkett,

Taryn Kutish,
Assisi Dawn

Michael Rakszawski,